|In a recent conversation with a member of our congregation about the nature of institutions, he said, “they guide expectations and behavior.” Churches certainly seek to do so with a unique institutional focus on the whole person as imago Dei. As a caring clergy person ministering to a concerned and connected congregation, this naturally leads us to be a place of acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ Christians, their partners and spouses, children and family members.
Moreover, I give thanks for the leadership of gay and straight people in equal measure, while being conscious of the unique suffering, sorrow and struggle that LGBTQ members have experienced historically in our denomination and in their churches of origin. As we know, institutions can be rigid and we can find ourselves all living with the tension of belonging to church communities; as the cliché goes, there are times when “one can’t live with them and can’t live without them.” So, as the world celebrates Pride month, I give special thanks to God for the strength and resilience of gay members of the Episcopal Church, for their leadership and loyalty.
As I reflect on my own experience of working with and ministering alongside gay clergy and lay people, I recognize a broadening and deepening of my own understanding of the love of God and participation in the Eucharist. We are fortunate, indeed, that our institutional values are uniquely shaped by Jesus’ command at the Last Supper to love one another, just as he has loved us, (John 13:34-35). So, we affirm that the whole of ourselves, including our sexual orientation, is made in the image and likeness of God; and we do so, laying claim to an authority higher than our own.
Onward in the Spirit,
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.